The movie Steel Magnolias is a wonderful portrayal of love, laughter, and tears. It centers around six strong women who embody the strength and resilience referenced in the title. Despite facing challenges in life, these women always maintain their graceful southern demeanor. One major struggle in the film involves Shelby’s diabetes, which prevents her from having children due to health risks. However, Shelby disregards her mother’s wishes and chooses to proceed with the pregnancy despite risking her own life. This decision forces Shelby to choose between experiencing motherhood – one of a woman’s greatest joys – or sacrificing her well-being. Additionally, M’lynn, Shelby’s mother, must accept her daughter’s choice that could lead to tragedy but also bring immense joy. Despite differing opinions and potential consequences, everyone should have the right to make choices for their happiness. The movie opens with Jackson sneaking into Shelby’s bathroom to confirm her commitment to marrying him.
When she sees him, Shelby tells Jackson that he cannot be in there because it is considered bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. In response, Jackson says, “So you’re going to marry me?” Shelby replies, “If my daddy catches you here, it won’t matter if I can bear your children or not. He will cut off your thing!” By the end of the scene, Shelby reassures Jackson that they will indeed get married that day. Shortly after, the scene shifts to Shelby and her mom at Truvy’s beauty shop, preparing their hair for the wedding. The conversation about why Shelby told Jackson she wouldn’t marry him arises, causing Shelby to have one of her anxiety attacks. Meanwhile, M’lynn informs Truvy and Clairee that the doctor has told Shelby she will never be able to have children. These two scenes are crucial because they reveal how infertility can impact someone’s life. Despite Jackson wanting children and Shelby’s health being compromised, she believes going through with the wedding would ruin his life. As the movie progresses from Shelby’s wedding to her return home for Christmas, there is a surprise awaiting her parents.
Shelby and her mom are discussing their Christmas gifts. When Shelby mentions she is getting furniture, her mom becomes surprised. Shelby reveals that the furniture is for the nursery because she is pregnant. M’Lynn’s facial expressions indicate that she is not pleased with the news. M’Lynn then asks about Jackson’s reaction, to which Shelby responds that he is extremely excited and doesn’t mind whether it’s a boy or a girl. This makes M’Lynn furious. She questions whether Jackson listens to doctors and specialists’ advice, suggesting that he doesn’t care since he doesn’t have to carry the baby. This scene is significant because it highlights Shelby’s happiness about being pregnant, contrasted with her mother M’Lynn’s concerns about the potential health risks.
The movie ends with Shelby giving birth to a son named Jack Jr. This brings joy to both Shelby and Jackson, but unfortunately, it also confirms Shelby’s mother’s fear of losing her daughter. In October, while trick-or-treating, Shelby experiences a kidney relapse and falls into a coma. Everyone remains strong and prays for her recovery, but eventually it becomes evident that she will not wake up. Thus, the difficult decision is made to disconnect life support. Although having baby Jack Jr brought immense happiness to Shelby’s life, her choice profoundly impacts everyone around her. At the graveyard, M’Lynn expresses her agony by stating “This isn’t how things are supposed to happen! I should be the one going first. I’ve always been prepared for that.” This particular scene highlights the impact of Shelby’s decision on her mother. Ultimately, Steel Magnolias is an extraordinary film that encompasses love, laughter, and tears shared among six remarkable individuals known as “Steel Magnolias.” The story revolves around Shelby who battles diabetes while yearning for children despite medical restrictions. Simultaneously, M’Lynn must come to terms with her daughter’s determination to find happiness through motherhood even at the cost of sacrificing her own life. The movie underscores the significance of personal choice in pursuing happiness despite differing opinions from others and potential consequences.